This week is the 8-year anniversary of the death of my friend Andy. It is also my 6-year anniversary of recovery.
Time is an interesting thing. I recently read an article on Quartz, by physicist Carlo Rovelli, about time: https://qz.com/1279371/this-physicists-ideas-of-time-will-blow-your-mind/ that raises some interesting questions. One quote in particular struck me:
“Time is a story we’re always telling ourselves in the present tense, individually and together. It’s a collective act of introspection and narrative, record-keeping and expectation, that’s based on our relationship to prior events and the sense that happenings are impending.”
A story we tell ourselves.
Relationships keep the story we tell ourselves from being myopic and self-centered. They are not perfect, and they don’t always work. That is to say that being in “relationship” with others doesn’t always prevent myopic or self-centered behavior. However, living without relationships always leads to being completely selfish.
If the story we tell ourselves together is partially one of narrative record-keeping and prior events, it means that people who have been in our lives but are no longer present are still part of us. They still affect us. They still matter.
Andy still matters to me. His life—and his death—impact me today and will impact me tomorrow. Time is not a rigid linear thing that separates us from prior events or carries us to future ones.
Rovelli contends that without a record (or memory) and expectations of continuation, we would not experience time’s passage or even know who we are. I like that. I have memories of Andy. I also have memories of my grandfather, memories of Kimray, memories of good things, and memories of bad things. Because of what I believe today, I have the expectation of continuation—if not through me personally, then through a legacy that I am a part of.
This is why Andy still matters. He is part of how I know who I am.
If I live another day, I want to be a part of someone else knowing who they are. Rovelli surmises that there are no actual things, only processes. Only relationships. Only connections. That is what matters.
This will be a very emotional week for me. Not necessarily sad, but I found in previous years that my emotional cup was full during this time and easily overflowed. Silly small things caused me to cry or be sort of overcome. I will reflect and write and experience the emotions, because after all, the process is what really exists.
My take-away this week will be gratefulness and a sense of duty. Andy’s loss and my recovery matter, and my response to both should honor this reality without asking it to explain itself.